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Phillips Exeter Academy

School rating 4 / 5 by

20 Main Street Exeter NH 03833 United States
9th to PG
9th to PG


Phillips Exeter Academy review by .

The bell in the Academy tower may be ringing, signaling the end of class, but no one leaves their seats. All too often I found the discussions around the Harkness Table to be so engaging that I couldn't quite leave- you just have to get that last point in, reach that deepest metaphor. This is Exeter at its finest. The education at Exeter is innovative and top-notch. Classes revolve around The Harkness Table, an oval table that seats eleven students and creates a discussion based style of teaching. There are no mindless lectures at Exeter, every class (including math and sciences) is taught using this interactive method and that means every class involves and feeds off of the students at the table. The students do the teaching and the teacher simply steers the discussion to make sure all the necessary material is covered. The work at Exeter is intense but manageable. Students at Exeter study hard, but at the same time teachers are always understanding and helpful. Teachers are more than happy to welcome students into their home to help with a paper and it isn't surprising to have teachers invite the entire class over for a home cooked meal at the end of the term. I still facebook message my Russian teacher and I'm going down to visit her and the campus in the winter... Papers and writing assignments are favored over standard fact memorizing tests, and there is a deep focus on developing writing skills and styles in classes ranging from Quantum Mechanics to U.S. History. I was more of a humanities person, so I can't speak to the upper level math classes, but I lived next door to the third best mathematician under the age of 18 in the US (I believe number one was in a girl's dorm about two hundred feet away) and he seemed to be very impressed with the Math Program at Exeter. Thanks to Exeter's notoriety, the speakers that it pulls in are unparalleled for a high school. The year before I arrived they had the democratic primaries in the assembly hall and all of the presidential candidates were walking around campus. Personally, I'm an avid environmentalist, so the school set me up to have lunch with a former US Senator who came and spoke and I found out he's Al Gore's right hand man on issues of climate change. A few months later I was reading about him in Newsweek. The teachers are amazing, the education is unrivaled (but the Harkness system is often reproduced), and I could never thank the school enough.

College Counseling

Students meet one-on-one with their college counselor numerous times during the application process which begins....

Sample insights on college counseling

  • They have contacts at most of the major universities and feel perfectly comfortable picking up the phone and advocating for a student to get accepted somewhere they feel is a good fit for that student. However, these counselors are certainly not magic bullets. They cannot guarantee that a student will get into an Ivy League university...
  • For those wishing to move on to Oxford or Cambridge, the provision is second-to-none. In the months running up to application and interview, every subject faculty offers classes (often run by former Oxbridge tutors) exploring further areas of their subject as well as offering advice on personal statements, interview technique and more...

Admissions - Getting Accepted

The number one thing that will help you get in is if the admissions officer....

Sample insights on admissions

  • For the interview, dress conservatively. Try to be very clean and put together. Also, I was a tour guide for two years and at the end of every tour, we were asked to evaluate the candidate so if you think the tour is not apart of the process, you are very wrong. Ask questions and be interested. Also, tip for the parents: the kids speak on the tour. Do not ask their questions for them...
  • Most younger siblings have an easy time in the admissions process. I can only think of one case of a younger sibling not being admitted. About half of the students who entered with me had come from public schools. The remainder came from private K-6 schools, or had transferred from other New York private schools The Elizabeth Morrow School and St. Bernard were two of the larger feeder schools...

School Life

I can not even begin to tell you how much I miss my friends, my dorm, and the entire campus at Exeter. It's true you sacrifice some personal freedoms going to boarding school (don't be stupid with drugs and alcohol on campus) but at the same time it's like college a few years early. Dances are common, the school often brings comedians and bands to perform (Dispatchs lead singer and his band, State Radio, came my first year). The food is so much better than anything I've seen at another boarding school or college campus and I miss the organic....

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